Achieving academic excellence has always been a goal for Andrea Montes De Oca, and at Loyola Marymount University, she’s succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.
The mechanical engineering junior made the Dean’s List the past five semesters, and earned a scholarship from the Latina Alumni Association sponsored by California Edison.
She got an early start presenting her own research as a sophomore when she was selected to participate in the highly competitive SUNFEST REU (Summer Undergraduate Fellowship in Sensor Technologies Research Experience for Undergraduates) at the University of Pennsylvania last summer. Her research on the fluid dynamics of blood tied for second place and won Honorable Mention.
Montes De Oca credits Sandra Luca, assistant dean for undergraduate studies at the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, for getting her there.
“I met Dr. Luca in the ACCESS (A Community Committed to Excellence in Scientific Scholarship) program,” Montes De Oca says. ACCESS is a first year learning community designed to prepare Seaver students for success at LMU and their post-baccalaureate paths. “I only got into SUNFEST because of her. LMU helped me see what I wanted to do and to achieve those dreams.”
Montes De Oca was inspired to consider a STEM career by parent’s inability to go to college. She and her two older brothers are the first in the family to attend college.
Through the LMU McNair Scholars Program, she has presented at conferences, including one hosted by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. At the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Conference, she landed a summer internship at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in nearby El Segundo, where she’ll work on the launch and manufacture of satellites.
The Los Angeles native hopes to get into the Air Force program from internship to full-time work after graduation, which incorporates a master’s program. She’ll also be applying to doctorate programs in mechanical engineering.
Montes De Oca has excelled at academics and says LMU has shown her the importance of giving back. Next fall, she’ll serve as vice president for SHPE, where her job is to fight stereotypes and help minority engineers develop professionally.
In the little time she has this summer between school and internship, Montes De Oca hopes to go on vacation with her family—possibly to Hawaii.